NEW HORIZONS M AG A Z I N E F RO M U P P S A L A U N I V E R S I T Y
ISSUE 1. 2014
FROM THE CONTENT:
MILLIONS OF IMAGES OF CANCER Page 10 GAME DESIGN IN RAPID DEVELOPMENT Page 26 HANS ROSLING REDRAWS THE MAP Page 36
NEW HORIZONS ISSUE 1. 2014
IN THIS ISSUE:
Large amounts of data require new tools
Computers calculate how the glaciers move
Language is difficult för Google’s computers
Resources for research
10 Millions of images of cancer
AN INCREASINGLY IMPORTANT FACTOR for successful research and inn-
13 In focus: School on a downward slope
ovation, is the access to well-functioning research infrastructure. The research becomes more complex and dependent on different types of resources. Some of these are available at Uppsala University, others we gain access to through national and international collaborations. This ranges from major facilities to databases, libraries, biobanks, laboratories and data storage resources. Long-term planning and intelligent funding strategies are required in order for the research infrastructure to maintain a high level of quality. In recent years, opportunities for external funding have declined. This means that a greater financial responsibility for local infrastructure lies with the actual institutions of higher education. We have therefore identified infrastructure as a strategic priority area for the University of Uppsala in the coming years. Science for Life Laboratory (SciLifeLab) is an excellent example of a large-scale collaboration where the research infrastructures play a significant role. It is a national centre for molecular biosciences aimed towards health and environmental research. The centre is a collaboration between Karolinska Institutet, the Royal Institute of Technology, Stockholm University and Uppsala University, where both technology and knowledge are to be used as a national resource. Other examples of joint national initiatives, which give Swedish research new opportunities include: Max IV Lab and ESS in Lund. For a small country such as Sweden, it is important to participate in international projects that give our researchers the best conditions for high quality scientific work. Providing world-class infrastructures also contributes to increased mobility by attracting outstanding researchers from other countries, which creates attractive meeting places and creative environments. Factors, which in turn, have positive effects on the quality of research and to society in general. n
Eva Åkesson, Vice-Chancellor
12 Genetic risk
16 Positive trend for world peace 20 Researcher profile: Erik Ingelssons driving force 24 The shoal of fish is the model in studies of democracy 26 Report: Game design in Visby 30 Student Kajsa Asplund: ”Psychologists are needed” 32 Innovation: The instrument that finds pathogens 36 Alumni: Hans Rosling redraws the map 38 Magician Johan Ståhl: ”Absolutely world class”
New Horizons is Uppsala University’s magazine about research and education. It is issued twice a year, in English and in Swedish, Nya horisonter. The magazine can be ordered free of charge or downloaded as a PDF at the address: www.uu.se/new-horizons Address: Communication and External Relations Uppsala University P.O. Box 256, SE-751 05 Uppsala, SWEDEN Editor: Annica Hulth, email@example.com Editorial board: Magnus Alsne, Anders Berndt, Anneli Björkman, Helena Edström, Linda Koffmar, Anna Malmberg, Gunilla Sthyr, Anneli Waara. Executive editor: Urban Lindberg Layout: Torbjörn Gozzi Printing: Danagård Litho English translation: Svensk Språkservice
For a small country such as Sweden, it is important to participate in international projects that give our researchers the best conditions for high quality scientific work. 2
By choosing this paper we have reduced our climate impact by more than 35per cent. The paper is produced in Sweden, and the amount of water used in its production is uniquely low. The raw materials come from “FSC forests”.
NEW HORIZONS: ISSUE 1.2014
New tools for large amounts of data .
More and more information is stored digitally and is available to many.
Fish show the way.
Game design in Visby.
He wants to redraw the map.
Meet honorary doctor Hans Rosling, who wants to show us our new world
Student of the year.
The flow of data is increasing A FLOOD OF DATA STREAMS ACROSS THE WORLD. Environment and climate data,
electrical particles, DNA sequences and genetic information... Not to mention patient data, statistics on unemployment benefit and sickness benefit. Even web services such as Facebook and search engines like Google are based on the data volume. For research, it has meant that completely new issues can be studied and on a much greater scale than before. In this issue, we discuss some examples: research on glaciers, how computers can learn to understand language, the future of magnetic materials and cancer treatment. To analyse all this data requires a wealth of computing power – both for data storage and to make calculations. In recent time resources have increased at Uppsala University, especially for researchers in biology and medicine. With computer power researchers can investigate new questions, but also pick up old unresolved problems from the drawer. That’s according to Ingela Nyström who leads Essence, a strategic research initiative on e-Science. This applies to many areas of research – perhaps the majority. ‘In the future, perhaps we will not talk about e-science, but about “the science”,’ predicts Ingela Nyström. n
Annica Hulth, editor firstname.lastname@example.org
THEME: E-SCIENCE T E X T : A N N I C A H U LT H P H O T O : M I K A E L WA L L E R S T E D T, S T A F F A N C L A E S S O N
Large amounts of data
REQUIRE NEW TOOLS
The amount of data has increased tremendously over the past ten years. More and more information is stored digitally and is available to many. At the same time, there is a need of tools to analyse all this data and create new knowledge. This is especially true within biology, where new technology has led to an explosion of data. Ola Spjuth leads Uppnex in Uppsala, which is a national resource for biologists who need to manage ever-increasing amounts of data in their research.
NEW HORIZONS: ISSUE 1.2014
‘A COMPLETELY NEW working method has
emerged over the past decade,’ says Ola Spjuth. He is a researcher at Science for Life Laboratory (SciLifeLab) in Uppsala and leads the Uppnex project. They have built up large computing resources for what’s known as “next-generation sequencing” – i.e., large-scale gene analysis. The technology makes it possible to quickly obtain the DNA sequence from samples from humans, plants and animals. It is useful in cancer research, pharmaceutical research and biology – and generates lots of data. ‘One run on a single sample can generate billions of bases (the letters A, T, C and G) and it’s not like reading a book, but takes days, weeks or in some instances months of calculations,’ says Ola Spjuth. ‘Suddenly, researchers were swimming in data, hard drives were stacked up on the lab benches so a decision was made to make a joint effort to try to solve the problems.’ Uppmax was already in place at Uppsala University, with high-performance computers that served researchers in fields such as physics and chemistry. In 2010 the server room was expanded with Uppnex for biological research. It is the part that has expanded the fastest and it’s still growing. A NEW SERVER ROOM was recently opened at
SciLifeLab, which is directly linked to Uppnex. All in all there is currently data from over 800 different projects and a storage capacity of 7 petabytes, which is equivalent to 7000 times more than will fit on a typical hard drive. ‘We have recently increased the computing capacity three times and the storage capacity five times, and apart from purchasing computers, we have built up a high level of expertise,’ says Ola Spjuth. The new technical possibilities have led to a great deal of new research results, for example, the mapping of dog and flycatcher genomes. Sequencing is used in medicine to increase knowledge about cancer, hereditary diseases and resistant bacteria. In practical terms, researchers send their samples to the sequencing platform, who after sequencing, store and analyse the results on Uppnex. The researchers then receive a project account where they can log in. They then continue to work on their data on Uppnex, instead of on their own computer. ‘It has been successful as we have a strong focus on the users. This differs from the high-performance computing in physics, where the researchers are more self-sustaining. All of a sudden, we have hundreds of biologists, who need to use the technology, but do not know so much about computers,’ says Ola Spjuth.
He adds that they have invested a lot in support and training. Together with SciLifeLab, they offer a course where researchers have learned the basics of using large-scale computer systems and try to log in and use Uppnex. ‘It is usually overbooked.’Very many rese arch groups employ bioinformaticians now, but research leaders also need to understand how it works.’ Many projects are in progress for a long time. To map the genome of an organism, for example, is just a starting point for further studies. Ola Spjuth envisions that the data volume will continue to increase. ‘Projects are getting bigger and more people want to sequence. At the same time, the process is faster and we can get more and more data. Projects expand 5–10 times on the drives during the analyses and biologists like to save all their data. It’s a massive challenge to be able to scale up storage and analyses.’ CONSEQUENTLY, developments place new de-
mands on the research infrastructure. This concerns both the ability to store data and to analyse the information. ‘We will need to develop new methods and tools,’ says Ingela Nyström. She is a professor at the department of Information Technology and coordinator of Essence, a strategic research initiative that is run from Uppsala University. Lund and Umeå Universities are also involved in the initiative. ‘Essence assembles researchers who wish to improve their research with e-scientific methods. Strong research both in the field and in method development are required in order for this to work,’ says Ingela Nyström. She sees research being able to answer completely new questions now that it’s possible to process larger amounts of data. ‘But also old problems, researchers will now be able to readdress problems that were set aside ten years ago. If previously it was possible to study 100 molecules perhaps 1 million molecules were needed to get a realistic picture. Ten years ago this was not possible, but today we can do a lot more full-scale experiments.’
Ten years ago this was not possible, but today we can do a lot more full-scale experiments.
INGELA NYSTRÖM Professor at the department of Information Technology
ESSENCE PART FUNDS 25–30 different projects and invests SEK 26 million each year in research within a wide range of fields, from material physics to linguistics. Common to all these is that they make use of large amounts of data, but also that they treat them in an advanced manner. ‘E-science is more than standard methods. All of our researchers in Essence use one of the computer centres and need more than what is on the desktop.’
Large amounts of data
REQUIRE NEW TOOLS
For example, computer support is needed to sort out what is relevant data and to quickly find significant information. As for calculations, it is a question of performing as much as possible in parallel and simultaneously keep track of the calculations so that any errors are kept under control. The vision for Essence is to build a “toolbox” for researchers, which can be used to customise solutions according to the problem to be solved. And here, researchers can benefit from collaboration and sharing with each other. ‘If methods have been created that work for one problem, perhaps they’ll work on another,’ says Ingela Nyström. One of the experts in the field is Sverker
Holmgren, professor at the department of Information Technology. He has researched computer-based tools and methods for some time and in recent years, needs have changed radically. If initially it was a question of smart calculations and simulations, now it is also about how large amounts of data are to be managed and analysed. They say “big data” and the explosion of data from many different sources is a new challenge for IT researchers. ‘Computer simulations are an established activity, now we need to develop the analysis of data as well as how to store and manage data. This requires metadata that describes the data and that there is agreement on how data should be marked up. It’s a whole new world!’
Today at Uppnex there is data from over 800 different projects and a storage capacity of 7 petabytes, which is equivalent to 7000 times more than will fit on a typical hard drive.
NEW HORIZONS: ISSUE 1.2014
DATA SHOULD NOT only be saved, but also
made available for research. He has links to the “Research Data Alliance”, a global project brought about to build an “internet” for researchers where research data can be stored and simultaneously made available to others. ‘This require data to be marked up in the same manner with a common standard.’ He sees serious challenges ahead, and above all, it is about working more interdisciplinary. ‘We need completely new tools and we need to join the different areas of application with computing science and mathematics. Essence plays an important role here.’ The actual base, research infrastructure, is the same in different disciplines, but requires each
research field to be developed with its own methods and tools. ‘The hard drives and the computers are the same, but the further you move up, the more specific different areas become. In the next few years we will need to develop a completely new type of tool, and this will demand more than a short-term approach.’ THESE THOUGHTS are also shared by Ola Spjuth at SciLifeLab. He has researched the future of biological research and what is required to keep up with developments. ‘Biologists require much more storage space than traditional users. They frequently work with a large number of smaller sub-problems that require a great deal of primary storage to process. They are also more impatient, while physicists are accustomed to the time it takes, biologists want it to go fast.’ One way to store large amounts of data is to do as Google and spread data across all computers. You can then send calculations to different places and calculate in parallel. ‘Within research it is not as easy to divide information as much is interrelated, for example within a chromosome, so it requires more advanced methods in order to be useful.’ Today researchers must keep up with developments. ‘We are trying to keep at the forefront with the methods we employ. If we do not have the latest software available, then Swedish researchers will automatically fall a half year behind those at the forefront of research,’ says Ola Spjuth. n
In the next few years we will need to develop a completely new type of tool, and this will demand more than a short-term approach.’ SVERKER HOLMGREN Professor at the department of Information Technology.
COMPUTER RESOURCES AT UPPSALA
UPPMAX (Uppsala Multidisciplinary Center for Advanced Computational Science) is Uppsala University’s resource for high performance computers, large-scale storage and expertise in high performance computer usage. Established in 2003 as one of six centres within the national infrastructure SNIC (Swedish National Infrastructure for Computing), which Uppsala University hosts. UPPNEX stands for “UPPmax NEXt generation sequencing Cluster & Storage”, and is a project at UPPMAX, which offers computation and storage resources as a national resource within the next-generation sequencing (NGS), primarily within Science for Life Laboratory (SciLifeLab). eSSENCE is a strategic research programme in e-Science that is run in a collaboration between Uppsala University, Lund University and Umeå University. eSSENCE was initiated by the government to support research that was strategically important for society and industry. The vision is to lift Swedish e-Science to the highest international level, by building a creative research environment where new tools and applications are developed. eSSENCE also interacts with industry.
THEME: E-SCIENCE T E X T : K I M B E R G S T R Ö M P H O T O : P R I VA T
Computers calculate how the glaciers move In order to understand how glaciers move it is important to understand how they are affected by global warming. Today’s technology allows researchers to both access and use much more data than before. However, this demands computer power to calculate and run models.
Veijo Pohjola, Professor of Physical Geography, gathers vast amounts of information at Svalbard which are then computer processed.
INCREASED GLOBAL temperature means not only that the earth’s glaciers are melting faster. It also means that those that run out into estuaries will slide out faster. This in turn affects melting as the underside of the glaciers comes into contact with water, which is relatively warm. The research team that professor Veijo Pohjola is active in is investigating the process when glaciers slide over bedrock. His research area is Svalbard. ‘As global warming continues, it becomes increasingly important to take the temperature of glaciers that are changing.’ The work is performed, among others, under
Svali, a Nordic research centre studying the climate environment and energy issues. The development of technology has changed the basis of glacier research. ‘In the beginning of your career you travelled around and took measurements on a glacier with an instrument and performed an analysis. Now we gather a great deal more information and conduct advance data processing that requires smart algorithms. Today you need to pair climate models, an ice flow model, balance models and databases of elevation models.’ THE RESEARCHERS model how a glacier moves in order to predict how it will move in the future, run the model and compare with the data they collect in the field. Input data is the gravitational field from the glacier, which gives a picture of the mass distribution, how the glacier surface moves and changes, the energy flow in the glacier and precipitation. It is running the models that demands substantial computing power. This applies in particular to the ice flow measurements. They must be repeated many times with slightly different parameters. Frequently this is done in several steps, where researchers use the results from previous runs to improve the input of the next. This creates large amounts of data that must be analysed. ‘The fact that we can perform more accurate analysis today, is obviously positive. We get better results. But it also becomes extremely complicated, so it’s not always so easy to understand the results,’ says Veijo Pohjola and laughs. VEIJO POHJOLA and his research group collaborate with many Swedish and international teams. Data exchange is an integral part of the research. ‘The sphere we work in is quite small and most people know each other, which means that you trust that you will be invited as an author if the work leads to a publishable result. But if you do not know the people, it may advisable to enter into an agreement about how data can be used.’ n
NEW HORIZONS: ISSUE 1.2014
T E X T : K I M B E R G S T R Ö M P H O T O : M I K A E L WA L L E R S T E D T I L L U S T R A T I O N : T O R B J Ö R N G O Z Z I
Computers that can speak like humans have existed for some time in science fiction literature. Yet in reality, it has proved difficult to get computers to understand the nuances of language. Joakim Nivre is a professor of computational linguistics and researches teaching computers to improve their understand of language.
I feel I don´t reach you
But you are very close
Language is difficult for Google’s computers JOAKIM NIVRE mainly teaches computers to ex-
plore the component parts of a sentence. He has recently been a visiting researcher at Google to help the company to develop improved language analysis software. ‘The methods they use are largely based on my research.’ In the early days of search engines, keywords were only matched against web pages. If the word occurred many times the page was positioned near the top of the search results. Now they want to access more of the content, i.e. to build question-answering systems. ‘When asking someone “who bought Nokia?” it is not enough that the computer can find documents where all keywords are present. It must also be able to determine that Microsoft is the subject and Nokia the object.’
Of course it is important to have sufficiently fast algorithms. ‘If you take the software that has the world record for accurate analysis of English, it would take 300 years to analyse the entire Web on a computer. That’s what I’m working on – to produce sufficiently fast software without losing too much accuracy.’ There is a great deal of irony in grammatical analysis. It is one of the most data and computer intensive areas. However, first and foremost it is neither storage space nor processing power that is biggest bottleneck. ‘In order for the software to learn to understand the texts, we first need to feed them with example sentences marked with a grammatical analysis. So people need to sit and mark up a sufficient amount of text.’
NOWADAYS almost all searchable texts have
IN THIS WORLD of data, researchers also share
undergone a grammatical analysis. ‘Google, for example, has its own copy of the web, which is updated daily. Information is stored about the content of each page, which words occur, facts are extracted and relationships mapped. Search questions and what people click on are also stored and matched.’ Making a linguistic analysis of the entire web involves managing incredible amounts of data.
large amounts of data. ‘It can provide additional credits in a publication if you have assisted with data that the article is based on.’ Yet it is more difficult with data that companies own, even if they are also involved in the data exchange, and data is under copyright. Another type of problem comes with integrity-protected data such as e-mail and SMS. n
Joakim Nivre, professor of computational linguistics, has been researching a method of teaching computers grammar.
THEME: E-SCIENCE T E X T : A N N I C A H U LT H P H O T O : M I K A E L WA L L E R S T E D T
Millions of images
No cancers are alike and different people need different treatment. Studying images of how cancer cells respond to different substances increases our knowledge of how to combat the glioblastoma brain tumour.
DIFFERENT PATIENTS RESPOND different-
ly to different treatments and the treatments in themselves often cause a great deal of suffering. By testing different pharmaceuticals on cultured cells, we hope to better understand the differences between different patients,’ says Carolina Wählby. She is a researcher in image analysis and collaborates with cancer researchers, pharmaceutical researchers, cell biologists and biostatisticians in a newly started project. Together they have examined the glioblastoma brain tumour, which makes up to three per cent of all cancers and is a very heterogeneous cancer type. “We use image analysis to quickly measu-
NEW HORIZONS: ISSUE 1.2014
re how the cells react to a broad range of treatments. For each patient, we test approximately 2500 different pharmaceuticals and doses in parallel and work with about a million images, something that requires a plethora of computing power.’ RESEARCHERS USE biopsies of tumours and cultivate the cells in a 384-well microarray plate. There are robotic systems that can discharge small molecules, either known pharmaceuticals or potential pharmaceuticals, in the small wells. They are then photographed with an automated microscope. All these images are then run on the computers at Uppmax. ‘If someone should analyse the images by hand, it would take several lifetimes, while a computer cluster can do it in a few hours. And you can always go back and look at the images where the computer indicates that something interesting has happened,’ says Carolina Wählby. In addition to the images, the researchers have access to patient information, and how they have responded to different treatments. This, together with the genetic and molecular analysis, is coupled to how the
cultured cells react to different pharmaceutical substances. ‘Two people never have exactly the same cancer, but you can still group the variants. The hope is to be able to better understand the different cancer variants, but in the long term, it would be fantastic if we can use this to find new effective treatments and decide which treatment would be most suitable for each patient,’ says Carolina Wählby ‘Often it is the treatment that is so incredibly stressful, if you can choose the right treatment from the outset you save both time and suffering.’ TO PROCESS ALL the material requires
mathematical algorithms that can find the cells, measure items and group the cells according to the different properties. The researchers can also pick out some cells that they think shown an interesting change and ask the computer to find similar cells. Are there additional patients that follow the same pattern? ‘It’s not as if we only use computer analysis, we constantly try to incorporate knowledge from the medical researcher or cell biologist and utilise this knowledge, so that we maximise the knowledge of all those involved,’ says Carolina Wählby. There are several advantages in studying the variation between patients on the cultured cells. Partly it is easier from an ethical aspect to test pharmaceuticals on cellular level outside the human body. In part you can test a large number of substances on the same patient, which otherwise would have been an impossibility. ‘But you have to remember that these cultured cells are a model of what is happening inside the body and that the cells are in a completely different environment than the human body. You must always bear in mind that this is a vast simplification of what is really happening, but it can put us on the right track.’ n
COLOURFUL IMAGES ‘For each patient, we test approximately 2500 different pharmaceuticals and doses in parallel,’ says Carolina Wählby. It requires plenty of computing power.
In the background you can see fluorescence microscopic images of cultured neurons in which different proteins light up in different colours with fluorescent labelled antibodies. The same types of images are taken of the cultured cancer cells.
Nano-level magnetism In magnetic materials the magnetic moments of the atoms are usually structured in clear, well-defined directions. If they are forced out of balance, exciting things happen. OLLE ERIKSSON, professor of Theoretical
Magnetism, and his research team at Ångström Laboratory have a good idea of what happens when the structured atoms are skewed off balance. Based on theoretical models, they create computer simulations of how magnetic materials behave on a nano-level and how to affect the properties of the materials. ‘There are many applications, for example within data storage. Most hard drives are made from magnetic materials and can be made smaller, faster and more energy efficient,’ says researcher Anders Bergman. The simulations and calculations require a lot of processing power as the researchers are studying great systems of millions of atoms. The research team is therefore using computer clusters at Uppmax. More processing power not only means that larger systems can be studied, it also means that the studies are more accurate. ‘We have a nice base for theorising in Sweden, where we have a robust infrastructure of supercomputers on which to run advanced calculations. This infrastructure is very important to us and other theorists,’ says Olle Eriksson. A project is currently being carried out to test these theories in practice, in collaboration with KTH and the University of Gothenburg. The project is led by Olle Eriksson. ‘We have made some headway as we have worked on this on a theoretical level for a few years. Now we can also create an experimental environment where we hope to verify our theories,’ says Olle Eriksson. n ANNICA HULTH
THEME: E-SCIENCE T E X T : J O S E F I N S V E N S S O N P H O T O : M I K A E L WA L L E R S T E D T
“Risk information after a genetic test can both give false positive and false negative results,’ says Professor Mats G. Hansson.
Last autumn the Centre for Research Ethics and Bioethics received a grant of SEK 36 million for an international research project, which has the working title “Mind the risk”. The project will involve a multidisciplinary research team examining the ethical aspects of genetic testing.
Genetic risk TODAY’S TECHNOLOGY, human DNA can be collected and mapped to a very large extent. Vast amounts of money are being invested in genome studies and surveys of biomarkers to give information about disease processes, but also on how we respond to different types of medical treatment. ‘You build up large knowledge bases, and with the help of technology produce more information than perhaps we are equipped to handle. Researchers do not always think about how they should communicate the information,’ says Mats G. Hansson, Professor of Biomedical Ethics and director of the Centre for Research Ethics and Bioethics at Uppsala University. One example of the problems we face is if a sample that we left at a biobank is found to indicate that we carry a genetic marker, which, depending on a number of factors, could result in cancer. How do we want the doctor or researcher to act in this case?
IF WHEN LEAVING normal samples at the
doctor it is revealed that we carry genetic information that can cause cancer, we would probably be informed of the test result so that we can prevent or cure the disease. Yet if the result is only an indication, depending on a variety of in-
teracting factors, it is no longer obvious that we want to know what’s going on, or that we understand the information we receive. ‘Risk information after a genetic test can both give false positive and false negative results. Frequently we do not see the whole picture, and cannot take on-board all the information. It has also been shown that these types of tests can affect the treatment when the patient starts to meddle with their own medications based on the results,’ says Mats G Hansson. IN PRINCIPLE there is no research into genetic
risk and how it should be communicated to the individual, and it was here that the idea for Mind the Risk project was born. The working group includes researchers from a variety of disciplines: psychologists, philosophers, health economists and clinics. Together, during the first two years, they will work with concepts such as genetic information and risk. ‘We intended to look at how patients have understood and reacted to this type of information. We also hope to develop a new method that takes into account how our decision-making appears. The ultimate goal is to develop concrete tools for both those who deliver and those who receive risk information,’ says Mats G Hansson. n NEW HORIZONS: ISSUE 1.2014
IN FOCUS T E X T : H E L E N A E D S T R Ö M P H O T O : M I K A E L WA L L E R S T E D T
on a downward slope Swedish schools are on a slippery slope. Poorer results and increased inequality are a concern. Collaboration across block boundaries and Finnish pride are required to reverse the trend. That is the opinion of eminent education scientists at Uppsala University. HOW’S IT GOING FOR SWEDEN? Ulf P. Lund-
gren was asked this question in a live radio interview on the same day as the result of the international student assessment PISA was published in December last year. He had a hunch that the result would be bad, but did not want to sound too negative. ‘So instead I said: I do not know’. It then turned out that not only was the result for Swedish 15-year-olds bad, it was much worse than expected,’ says Ulf P. Lundgren, Professor Emeritus at Uppsala University, who in the 1990s was a part of the team that devised OECD’s international knowledge test PISA, Programme for International Student Assessment. The assessment, which tests 15 year olds in mathematics, reading and natural sciences, is held every three years and is comparable over time and between countries. According to the latest assessment, the performance of Swedish students has deteriorated compared to 2009 and for the first time, they performed below the OECD average in all areas. Furthermore, the results seen over time have also deteriorated the most compared to all other participating OECD countries.
berg, Professor of Educational Sciences at Uppsala University. In her research, she has studied another international test in detail: PIRLS, Progress in International Reading Literacy Study. Here it is the reading comprehension of 10 year olds that is studied and the latest result from 2011 is not pleasant reading either. Even if the Swedish 10 year olds are above the EU and OECD average, the Swedish results have continuously deteriorated during the 2000s. IT IS DIFFICULT to discover the exact causes of the development. One clue is what actually happens in the classroom. In a recently completed research project, Caroline Liberg and her colleagues have studied the PIRLS reading test, which not only examines students’ knowledge, but also includes surveys to include teachers. ‘It turns out that Sweden is one of the countries with the smallest element of text dialogue
The assessment shows that it is the low performing students who have fallen the most.
According to the latest PISA survey the performance of boys has deteriorated. ‘We get more and more student teachers with poorer prior knowledge,’ says Caroline Liberg.
THIS IS A DISTURBING trend that is confir-
med, but the misery does not end there. ‘The most troublesome is that inequality in Swedish schools is on the increase,’ says Ulf P. Lundgren. The assessment shows that it is the low performing students who have fallen the most. In addition, the results of the boys regressed to a greater extent than girls. ‘The strongest students in the schools fell a little. However, this cannot be compared with the least strong pupils – they fell considerably and have become many more,’ says Caroline Li-
SCHOOL on a downward slope
We have had a policy that has stripped teachers of control over their own profession,
between teacher and student. Swedish teachers are well below the OECD average in terms of spending time on teaching that gives students the means to absorb the text content. Instead, pupils are left to themselves for quiet reading,’ says Caroline Liberg. The result development in schools also has to do with a changing world. For example, 1990’s school choice and free-school reforms. ‘School choice has led to more homogeneous groups of pupils. Some schools have homogeneous strong students who challenge each other to good results and who also have strong support from home. Other schools have homogeneous weaker groups of pupils who lack role models in school and at home. This problematic trend has been highlighted, among others, in the PISA assessments,’ says Caroline Liberg. THE DECLINING NUMBER applying to teacher
Professor Emeritus Ulf P Lundgren. PHOTO: LARS WALLIN
training is another external factor that cannot be ignored. Initially it was mainly the smaller colleges that recruited students with little prior knowledge, but now it is also the major universities. ‘In essence, we get more and more student teachers with poorer prior knowledge,’ says Caroline Liberg. She graduated from teacher training in the early 1970s – a time when the education required high admission credits and the profession had a different look. Teachers could then spend all their time on teaching and planning. Today, a primary school teacher, according to a report from the Swedish National Agency for Education, spends on average 34 per cent of their work time on education, 10 per cent on planning and
as much to assess and document student development. Feedback on student knowledge development to students and parents takes 3 per cent of the time and administration and practical work approximately 13 per cent. Another change compared to the past is that a number of national tests must be sat in years 3, 6 and 9, and at secondary level. THE DEBATE ABOUT Swedish schools has been lively since December, when the PISA results were presented. The school question is expected to be one of the most important issues prior to the 2014 election and the political parties are positioning themselves. The reaction tires Professor Ulf P. Lundgren, who researches in the field of education policy. ‘It is not a particular reform, initiative or reason behind the development. The policy has created a slippery slope for the Swedish school system that depends on many factors. It is naive to believe otherwise.’
RESULTS PISA 2012
MATHEMATICS Average OECD 494 points. Sweden: 478 points. Comments: All other Nordic countries performed better than Sweden.
READING Average OECD 496 points. Sweden: 483 points. Comments: Seven OECD countries had worse results than Sweden.
Mexico: 415 points
Sweden: 485 points
Japan: 547 points
Mexico: 424 points
Sweden: 483 points
Japan: 538 points
Mexico: 413 points
Sweden: 478 points
South Korea: 554 points
Summary: From performing above the OECD average in PISA 2000, the results for Sweden are now well below average in all three areas of PISA 2012. None of the other 33 OECD countries in PISA 2012 had such a large drop in results as Sweden.
NATURAL SCIENCE Average OECD 501 points Sweden: 485 points Comments: Seven OECD countries performed worse than Sweden. NEW HORIZONS: ISSUE 1.2014
According to him, there is a risk that assessments such as PISA, ill-judged, could be counter-productive for a country’s education system. ‘Political hullabaloo and ill-conceived new reforms only lead us to continue to undermine the school,’ says Ulf P. Lundgren, whose advice to the political parties is to put down the battle-axes in the school question. Inspiration can be taken from our neighbour Finland – who ranks highly in international tests such as PISA and where there is a clear agreement on collaboration across party lines in education matters. ‘Moreover, they have a proud tradition surrounding the teaching profession that historically dates back to the Russian days when the schoolmaster was the one who carried the Finnish language and Finnish culture forward.’ Ulf P. Lundgren quotes one of his Finnish research colleagues: ‘In Finland, we trust our teachers. In Sweden you distrust them. That’s the difference.’
The knowledge of 15 year olds in mathematics, reading and science are the focus of PISA, Programme for International Student Assessment. It is the international Organisation for Economic Cooperation and Development, OECD, behind the assessment, which was previously conducted in 2000, 2003, 2006 and 2009. In 2012, a total of 65 countries, including 34 OECD members, took part. In Sweden close to 4700 pupils took part in the study, which consists of tests, student survey and school survey.
‘I think he’s right. Swedish politicians have through reforms already intervened in how teachers must do their job. And, for example, when politicians say that we need more pulpit teaching the subtext is that teachers are not competent, which in turn lowers the teacher’s status. It is these serious consequences we now see. We have had a policy that has stripped teachers of control over their own profession,’ says Ulf P. Lundgren. n
‘In essence, we get more and more student teachers with poorer prior knowledge,’ says Caroline Liberg.
T E X T : A N N I C A H U LT H P H O T O : S C A N P I X
One type of conflict cannot be predicted by the researchers’ model: In countries such as Syria and Libya where demands for democratisation create violent conflicts.
Positive trend for world peace
– except in new democracies The number of armed conflicts around the world will continue to decline. At least according to Håvard Hegre, new professor of peace and conflict studies at Uppsala. His forecast for the next 40 years shows several positive trends that will strengthen peace. IN NOVEMBER last year, Håvard Hegre took
over the Dag Hammarskjöld Professorship in Uppsala after Peter Wallansteen. He came directly from Oslo – from the Peace Research Institute Oslo (PRIO) and the University of Oslo – where he previously in same year presented his forecast for peace and conflicts in the world, which was made in collaboration with Uppsala University. The forecast gives an optimistic picture: In 2050, the percentage of countries in conflict will have fallen to 7 per cent from 16.5 per cent in 2012. Just over one per cent – two countries – will be involved in conflicts that cause 1000 or
more deaths per year. This optimistic scenario attracted a great deal of attention both locally and internationally, explains Håvard Hegre. ‘Of course it is controversial to make this kind of forecast and naturally there are many factors that can change, but our model is based on extensive research and data about conflicts between 1946 and 2012 from the Uppsala Conflict Data Project.’ One of the most important trends is that poverty in the world is on the decrease. It also means fewer conflicts, as countries where a large NEW HORIZONS: ISSUE 1.2014
FACTORS THAT AFFECT PEACE
Fighting poverty and education (fewer conflicts) Decolonisation and division of states (initially more conflicts) UN peacekeeping operations (fewer conflicts) Democratisation (initially more, but in the long term fewer conflicts) Growing population (more conflicts in large populations, but fewer conflicts per capita)
part of the population is poor, uneducated and young, are more likely to enter into conflict. More than half of the world’s conflicts in 2012 were in the poorest quarter of the countries. ‘There are several reasons for this. Poverty is a motivation for conflict and can lead to revolts. Besides, it is easy to recruit soldiers in countries with many poor and the elite lose less due to the economic impact of the conflict. Therefore, the reduction in poverty is one of the most important factors in our model.’ ANOTHER FACTOR is the so-called “conflict trap”. The longer there has been peace in a country, the less chance of war. ‘Conflicts beget conflicts and peace fosters peace. Five years after a conflict, the risk of a new conflict is five times greater than before the conflict. Every year of peace makes a difference,’ says Håvard Hegre. A positive trend can also be seen here. In 2012, the world’s countries had on average had 42 years of peace, as compared with the average in 1960 of 27 years. ‘As we have experienced a trend of decreasing conflicts over the past 20 years, you can be optimistic about the next 40 years.’ Another important factor that affect peace is that attitudes to violence and conflict have
changed, says Håvard Hegre. ‘The war between the USA and Vietnam would not have been possible today. It was only 40 years ago, but since then there has been a dramatic change in our attitude towards the use of violence.’ However, another kind of conflict, which could not be predicted by the model developed by researchers, is increasing: In countries such as Syria and Libya where demands for democratisation create violent conflicts. ‘We need to build democratisation into our model to be able to provide a better prognosis. This means that we must be able to predict changes in political systems in the coming years, which increases the complexity.’
As we have experienced a trend of decreasing conflicts over the past 20 years, you can be optimistic about the next 40 years.
PHOTO: UNIVERSITY IN OSLO
• • • • •
IN THE LONG-TERM, democratisation is a factor
that strengthens peace. It usually results in increased levels of education, reduced poverty and higher incomes. So despite these new conflicts, the forecast of fewer wars in the world remains. It’s not the picture you get when you follow the news?
‘The media are conflict-oriented, and their selection is not representative. There is a strong focus on the conflict in Syria, but not much is written about Colombia where the conflict is almost over,’ says Håvard Hegre. n
The reduction in world poverty is one of the positive trends that Håvard Hegre highlights in his research.
Incidence of conflict Observed and predicted conflicts
10% Minor (at least 25 dead/year) Major (at least 1000 dead/year)
Poverty reduction Infant mortality, percentage of people without education and people 15–24-years old is decreasing.
100 80 60 40 20 1960 1970 1980 1990 2000 2010 2020 2030 2040 2050 Infant Mortality Rate
% without education
% 15–24 years old
Why do Europeans tolerate milk? EUROPEANS TOLERATE MILK to a far
greater extent than people in other parts of the world and the reason for this has yet to be fully uncovered. A study by, among others, Oddny Sverrisdóttir at EBC takes us a step closer to answering the question. By studying the DNA of early Iberian farmers, researchers have shown that the hypothesis that milk was important for the calcium absorption of our ancestors may not have been the only explanation. It may also have been the case that starvation led to periods of very strong selection in favour of those people who could digest lactose. n
The poor owned more than believed RESEARCHERS in economic history at
Uppsala University have shown, by studying Swedish auctions during the 1700 and 1800s, that the scale of the Swedish trade has previously been grossly underestimated. They have also seen that poor people owned many more objects than previously thought. ‘It has often been thought that during this period Sweden was a community lacking in objects, but that is not true at all,’ says Sofia Murhem. Previous research has often looked at inventories, but much of what a person buys in a life time disappears before an inventory is made of the death estate. Researchers have also found that there was a great rotation of belongings. n
Sleep can protect the brain NEW RESEARCH from Uppsala University shows that in healthy young men it’s possible to measure, after one night of sleep deprivation the same elevated concentration of substances in the blood as after acute brain injury. The results indicate that a good night’s sleep can help the brain stay healthy. In a collaboration between Uppsala University and Gothenburg University, researchers have together examined whether an acute lack of sleep affects morning values of two cell substances whose concentrations were measured in the blood and which usually can be found in the brain’s brain cells.
A total of 15 men of normal weight participated in the two parts of the study. In one instance they had to remain awake for an entire night, while in the second instance they slept around eight hours. ‘We found that a night with a total lack of sleep was followed by elevated blood concentrations of NSE and S-100B. Blood levels of these substances usually rise after acute brain injury. Consequently, our results indicate that one night of sleep deprivation can increase the risk of a loss of nerve cells, ’ says sleep researcher Christian Benedict, at the Department of Neuroscience. n
One night of sleep deprivation can increase the risk of a loss of nerve cells.
The history of swearing ‘BAD WORDS’ have always existed. In a new book, a group of researchers from the Nordic countries present the latest research on swearing. How are swear words used and which attitudes have existed towards men’s and women’s swearing? What words did you use if you wanted to say something really foul in the 17th century? A group of language researchers from Sweden, Norway, Denmark, Finland and Lithuania started collaborating in 2010 to promote research on swear words in the Nordic languages, a field which has previously been neglected in language research. The collaboration has resulted in the book Swearing in the Nordic Countries. The authors look closely at current and historic use of swear words, attitudes towards swearing in different age groups, swearing in media, as well as how swear words are passed from one language to another. “The bad words have linguistic and social functions that we want to understand. Swear words reveal things about us and the society we live in, about our relationships and values, both then and now”, says Ulla Stroh-Wollin, senior lecturer of Nordic languages at Uppsala University. In her chapter of the book, Ulla Stroh-Wollin discusses swearing from a historic perspective, based on studies of 45 theatrical plays from the 18th, 19th and 20th centuries. The studies show that before the mid-1700s it was likely worse to “take the Lord’s name in vain” than to use diabolical curses. Ulla Stroh-Wollin has also seen that swearing in general was at its most stigmatised during the late 19th century. n LINDA KOFFMAR NEW HORIZONS: ISSUE 1.2014
First dinosaur finds in Saudi Arabia
Carrier pigeons finding home
AN INTERNATIONAL research team has
DESPITE THEIR SMALL BRAINS pigeons are very good at navigating. In a new study Richard Mann at the department of Mathematics together with researchers from Oxford University has shown that the ability of carrier pigeons to remember their flight routes is affected by the landscape below. Hedges and boundaries between urban and rural areas make up ideal landmarks for the pigeons to navigate. This knowledge may help researchers to predict the flight routes of other birds – something that may well benefit conservationists, birdwatchers and urban planners a like. n
found 72 million year-old dinosaur fossils on the Arabian Peninsula. They have identified a tooth from a carnivorous dinosaur and a tail vertebra from a 20-metre long dinosaur. ‘These are the first taxonomically identifiable dinosaurs from the Arabian Peninsula that have been reported,’ says Benjamin Kear, researcher in paleobiology at Uppsala University. Two different types of dinosaurs can be described based on the fossils, a bipedal carnivore that is distantly related to Tyrannosaurus but only six metres tall, and an herbivorous titanosaur that may have been up to 20 metres long. n
Porridge has health benefits A DIET BASED on Nordic food has several
positive effects, such as lowered cholesterol, blood pressure and improved insulin sensitivity. Some of the cholesterol-lowering effects are related to the improved fat quality in the Nordic diet, and our Nordic breakfast of porridge can have unexpected positive effects. Viola Adamson, doctoral student at the Department of Public Health and Caring Sciences shows this in a new thesis. Switching to a Nordic breakfast of fibrerich porridge can have positive effects on abdominal fat and inflammation. n
Wave power in the Baltic Sea
Punk is no revolt PUNK as a subculture arises not as a revolt
against injustice, but is created and defined from within, irrespective of how the outside world appears. This is shown in a new thesis by sociologist Erik Hannerz. He has studied how punks in Sweden and Indonesia define their subcultural affiliation, both in relation to the surrounding community and to other punks. ‘If subcultures such as punk occurred due to injustices in society, we would see significant differences between countries, which we do not. My study shows that it is the same structures and inequalities that recur in punk in Sweden as in Indonesia,’ says Erik Hannerz. n
The technique is well suited to the waves and depth of the Baltic Sea.
CONDITIONS ARE GOOD for an invest-
ment in the development of wave energy in the Baltic Sea. This is what a two-year EU-funded pilot study shows, which has now been completed. ‘You could say that the study opens up the Baltic Sea for wave energy. There are challenges with seasonal ice, for example, but we have managed two seasons with good results. Our technology has proven to be very well adapted to the Baltic Sea’s wave climate and depth,’ says Erland Strömstedt, researcher at the Ångström Laboratory and principal of the study. n
RESEARCHER PROFILE T E X T : M A G N U S A L S N E P H O T O : M I K A E L WA L L E R S T E D T
“My biggest driving force is to have fun”
When Uppsala University recruited 39-year-old Erik Ingelsson as professor of molecular epidemiology, there was talk about a spectacular recruitment. After a first year with publications in Nature Genetics and Science and a number of prestigious grants there was no reason to doubt this.
AT 35 YEARS OLD, Erik Ingelsson was named professor at Karolinska Institu-
tet. He had previously taken a doctorate in just over two years and was ranked in 2011 by Business Week in 14th place out of Sweden’s 101 super talents. When Erik Ingelssons Alma mater, Uppsala University, managed to recruit him and his research team, Stellan Sandler, dean of the medical faculty, described it as a spectacular recruitment. ‘In my field a great deal speaks for Uppsala University,’ says Erik Ingelsson. ‘The successful tradition within diabetes and cardiovascular research, the flagship Uppsala Clinical Research Center, the establishment of SciLifeLab and ties to the Uppsala University Hospital. Once in place, my research team and I have been very well received and we have had a great initial period with publications in, among others, Nature Genetics and Science.’ ERIK INGELSSON focuses his research on the relationships between mole-
cular factors such as genes, proteins and metabolites, and – primarily – cardiovascular disease and diabetes. These diseases are now also increasing rapidly in poor countries. Through large-scale partnerships across national borders, Erik wishes to help reduce the number of sick and contribute to improved care for patients. ‘Molecular epidemiology is a relatively new field. Good studies require ample, well-characterised materials. Uppsala offers a solid base through, among others, the epidemiological initiative EpiHealth. The need of ample material also accelerates the development of global interaction. My group currently works with players in a number of countries and wants to build a leading research environment here in Uppsala.’ Ambitions are high and, according to Erik Ingelsson perfectly reasonable. For him, it means conducting important studies and innovative research and the horizon is probably not too far away. ‘My group has the ability to apply new technologies in other applications and by doing so continue development. Besides, at Uppsala, we have more of the external conditions required. The challenges I see primarily concern Swedish research in general, such as career paths and funding models.’ AS A MEMBER of Sweden’s young academy, Erik Ingelsson is a clear voice in the research policy discussion. According to the academy’s website it advocates a system characterised by transparency and fairness, however, at the same time primarily rewards the best researchers and research environments. ‘I think we need a structural system change in the Swedish academic world
NEW HORIZONS: ISSUE 1.2014
Age: 39 years Family: Wife and two children Title: Professor of Molecular Epidemiology Lives: House in Uppsala Interest: Family, the cottage in JĂ¤rvsĂś, music, food and fitness
RESEARCHER PROFILE Erik Ingelsson
if we are to recruit and retain the best talent. The situation with uncertain career paths for young researchers improved when posts such as assistant lecturer and postdoctoral research fellow were reintroduced, but a great deal of work remains and we must all do our share, especially in the recruitment process. Erik Ingelsson himself leads a research team of fourteen people. He announces each new post openly and then appoints them with rigorous accuracy. ‘Today we are a team of dynamic, motivated individuals with different backgrounds, who complement each other in the scientific discussion.’ ANOTHER ITEM on Erik’s research policy agenda concerns the model for
research funding. Personally he is looking for greater focus on researcher-initiated ideas with assessment in open competition. However, he is unsure about the current trend with policy-driven initiatives and large collaborations. ‘I’m definitely not questioning the good will of those governing, but there is a risk that many researchers will be forced to set up their activities in a patchwork of different forms of funding.What’s more, I dare to say that if as researchers we do not know what the future holds so probably it’s unlikely that our elected do.This does not mean that the research community should be left alone without evaluation, but important discoveries cannot just be forced to the fore.’ In 2013 he was granted, as one of nine Swedish researchers, the ERC Starting Grant and was also named a Wallenberg Academy Fellow. This success means that Erik’s research team can follow up and deepen their acclaimed findings about how our genetic inheritance affects the risk of developing obesity, lipid disorders and cardiovascular disease. ‘In addition, it increases our ability to invest in new, more daring directions, which makes the research much more enjoyable and it is a privilege I am extremely grateful for. Just having fun has always been a great motivator for me, both professionally and privately.’
Erik Ingelsson wants greater focus on researcher-initiated ideas with assessment in open competition.
NATURALLY, THERE IS an Erik Ingelsson outside of the research world. There is a chance you have seen him on stage with Orphei Drängar, Uppsala’s widely known male choir that mixes sold-out auditoriums with recordings and international performances. In the autumn a concert tour of Japan is in the pipeline, and as chair of OD his hands will be full, or? ‘Sure, it takes some time, but our organisation is extremely well-oiled. During high school, I actually considered a career as a musician, and singing in OD is probably as close to becoming professional that an amateur can be. Otherwise, I spend most of my time with my family. Obviously with two children, life includes some juggling, but my wife and I are very eager to see each other’s needs. We let each other evolve in our careers, and she is definitely an inspiration to me!’ n
During high school, I actually considered a career as a musician, and singing in OD is probably as close to becoming professional that an amateur can be.
NEW HORIZONS: ISSUE 1.2014
A new window on the Universe DEEP DOWN in the ice at the South Pole,
researchers have found particles, neutrinos, originating outside our solar system – a dis-
Over five thousand optical modules have been lowered into the ice.
covery that has been named the physics breakthrough of 2013 by the British magazine Physics World. Olga Botner, professor of physics at the Ångström Laboratory, is spokesperson for the International Project IceCube. ‘It’s incredibly exciting.’ For the first time, we have compelling evidence that high-energy neutrinos from outer space have landed here on earth,’ she says. It’s not only a major scientific step, but also a work victory. It has taken six years to construct the research station on the South Pole, a thousand cubic kilometre area where over five thousand optical modules have been lowered in the inland ice. The project involves 280 individuals and 41 departments from around the world. Two years after the IceCube installation was completed, researchers have received confirmation that the technology works. The sensors have captured 28 events and approximately half of them are neutrinos, which more than likely come from space. n
Early violence leaves a mark ONE IN FIVE ADULT WOMEN in Sweden
and one in twenty men have suffered serious sexual violence at some time in their lives. This is the result of a study from the National Centre for Knowledge on Men’s Violence Against Women (NCK) at Uppsala University. The survey also illustrated a clear link between exposure to violence and physical and mental ill health later in life. ‘Violence is a serious social problem and
also a public health problem. It is therefore important to have a current survey as a basis for decisions concerning measures to combat violence and improve support for those affected,’ says Professor Gun Heimer, director of NCK. The survey was directed to a nationally representative sample of 10,000 women and 10,000 men aged 18–74 years and was conducted in collaboration with Statistics Sweden. n
Researchers spin threads of gold and DNA BY ALLOWING DNA strands to grow together with gold, researchers at Uppsala Berzelii Technology Centre for Neurodiagnostics and SciLifeLab have developed a totally new concept of super-sensitive diagnostics of different illnesses. The technology is based on allowing a DNA strand to grow over a thin span between two electrodes in an electrical circuit. The strands only grow if
a certain specific DNA molecule has become attached to one of the electrode surfaces. ‘We believe that the incredibly strong signal that we register when we succeed in spinning a gold wire between the electrodes will be possible to convert into a diagnostic test with extreme sensitivity and specificity,’ says Professor Mats Nilsson, who led the study. n
The subjects ate an average of three muffins per day for seven weeks.
How to combat abdominal fat NEW RESEARCH from Uppsala University shows that saturated fat is more fattening and gives less muscle gain than polyunsaturated fat. It is the first study on humans, which shows that the fat composition of food not only affects blood cholesterol and the risk of cardiovascular disease, but also influences where the body fat is stored. In the study, thirty-nine young, normal-weight adult men and women ate 750 extra calories a day for seven weeks. The target was that they should go up three per cent of their original weight. The extra calories were ingested in the form of muffins with a high-fat content, baked in the lab by Fredrik Rosqvist, doctoral student and the study’s first author. Half of the participants were fortunate to eat the excess calories from polyunsaturated fat (sunflower oil), while the other half received the excess calories in the form of saturated fat (palm oil). ‘As the subjects of the study were eating an average of three muffins a day to gain weight we baked over 6,000 muffins. Most of the participants thought it went well, even if they tired of muffins by the end,’ says Fredrik Rosqvist. n
T E X T : A N N E L I B J Ă– R K M A N P H OTO : M AT T O N
THE SHOAL OF FISH ISTHE MODEL in studies of democracy How do countries develop democracy and economic prosperity? What factors lie behind poverty and segregation? Sociologists and analysts seek out traditional answers in social sciences and economic theories. However, in his latest research Uppsala mathematician David Sumpter started from the movements of a shoal of fish to create mathematical models for assumptions about democratic development.
NEW HORIZONS: ISSUE 1.2014
THE IDEA OF ANALYSING human social sys-
tems based on group behaviour in animals has long interested David Sumpter at the Department of Mathematics. He has previously studied and mathematically formulated how individual animals take after the movement patterns of groups. Yet he and his research colleagues recently published a report in which social movements were described and predicted with the help of differential equations, based on studies of shoals of fish. ‘Fish move in two or three dimensions, which are a part of a human’s conception of up and down, left and right,’ says David Sumpter. ‘But countries also move through a number of dimensions, though these comprise of economic growth, democracy, and infant mortality. These movements can be described using the same mathematical methods.’ He has collected the material from research projects at Sydney University in Australia over the past five years. Mathematical models have been based on colleagues’ biology experiments with ants, grasshoppers and fish. The idea for the current study came three years ago. The source of inspiration was Professor Hans Rosling’s Gapminder company and their creative computer simulations of development trends. ‘I had developed methods based on a shoal of fish, but somewhere in the background theFish move in two or three dimensions – up and down, left and right. Countries also move through a number of dimensions, though these comprise of economic growth, democracy, and infant mortality.
re was always a desire to model humans. I asked myself whether I could use this type of method on other questions to study, for example, development and social behaviour in humans,’ says David Sumpter. He contacted Peter Hedstrom at the Institute for Futures Studies in Stockholm, who arranged another partner in the World Value Survey. THE PROJECT really took off when the World
Bank opened its databases as well as the financial support from the Swedish Research Council and the Riksbank. In December, David Sumpter and his colleagues’ research findings were presented in the online publication PLoS One. At the same time, they made a video with moving illustrations of 74 countries’ democratic and economic growth since 1981. ‘For example, the democratic criteria is not just about whether the country holds democratic elections. The experts who evaluated democracy and human rights in these countries have taken into account many aspects and then gave the countries values between 0 and 1. We then used the mathematical models that corresponded the best with the development pattern,’ says David Sumpter. Mainly it’s a question of using the countries that have developed democracy in the last 30 years in order to make assumptions about the future for others who find themselves in the same position today. Interest among politicians is large, and several social projects are in the pipeline. ‘In one project we will try to collect data from Sweden’s municipalities and county councils about the link between mental illness and the background of pupils. In another with Institute for Futures Studies, we will study segregation in schools and residential areas, how it has changed over time and what factors lie behind the changes.’
For example, the democratic criteria is not just about whether the country holds democratic elections.
DATA FROM Statistics Sweden will be delayed
however; one reason seems to be limited personnel resources. Another is the ethical component that deals with the distribution of information, and to whom, says David Sumpter. Something he anticipates are reactions to the models and questions about how the results should be interpreted. ‘It is no good if we say that this will happen in five years’ time and it does not happen. Yet if it is foreseeable, then I think the information is interesting and valuable to pass on.’ However, the Lucas critique in economics argues that a model that can predict the future can be used to change the model. Accordingly, there is a risk that we actually change society so that what we predicted does not occur.’ n
‘I had developed methods based on a shoal of fish, but somewhere in the background there was always a desire to model humans,’ says mathematician David Sumpter.
REPORT T E X T : A N N I C A H U LT H P H O T O : M I K A E L WA L L E R S T E D T
GAME DESIGN in rapid development IN ONE OF THE HOUSES on Campus Gotland
‘We were the first European university that participated at the Tokyo Game Show and we attracted a great deal of attention. Alexander Westerdahl, Ludwig Lindstål and Adam Wrange.
intensive game development is in progress. We open the door slightly to one of the computer halls where some first year students are gathered around a table. They were fully concentrated on their game projects. Alexander Westerdahl has an electric guitar on his lap. He’s recording sound effects for the game he and his friend Simon Strandh across the table are working on. We need the sound of a rubbish bin rolling down the hill. The game is about a man who is angry with everyone and everything during a demonstration. Anders Wetter sitting close by is drawing in his sketchbook. He started playing computer games as a four year old and has already managed to develop his first two games. I’m working on my own concept while studying too. This happens around the clock,’ he adds smiling. The others around the table nod knowingly. It often happens that they stay here after the end of day. ‘I spend more time here than at home. And I still go home with a smile every night,’ says Adam Wrange. The level of applicants to the education in game design at Campus Gotland is high. The computer games industry is an industry of the future in which Sweden is at the forefront, with
In order to become a good game designer, you need to grasp the latest technology – but also to develop as an artist. A creative environment encompasses the design education in Visby, where a sketchbook and guitar have their given place among the computers. the most developed games per capita. ‘New technological opportunities emerge every week. Our students must master today’s technology, but above all be equipped for coming technologies,’ says Professor Steven Bachelder. When the programme started in 2001, it was Sweden’s first higher education programme in game design and one of the first in the world. Nowadays, the department of game design is a part of Uppsala University, but residing in Visby. Over the years, the education has garnered a lot of international attention. In May, it’s time for the annual Gotland Game Conference, where an international panel will evaluate the games created by the students. In 2013, the department participated in the Tokyo Game Show as the first European institution of higher education. Three games developed by students and which won awards in Swedish Game Awards were shown at the stand. ‘We were the first European university that participated at the Tokyo Game Show and we attracted a great deal of attention. Japanese producers were very interested in the students, we were actually surprised by the actual level of interest,’ says Steven Bachelder. NEW HORIZONS: ISSUE 1.2014
Here there is an internationally compiled teacher group, which increases the dynamics. Two researchers from Japan come with a total of 50 years experience, from Tokyo Institute of Technology and the research unit at Japan’s national television, (NHK). ‘They help us to make the connection between research in new technologies and games. We need to prepare the students for the future, so that they are used to implementing their ideas with new techniques. Otherwise it will be difficult for them to assert themselves.’ THE STUDENTS LEARN how to master the
‘your idea’. Everyone has good ideas, but a good idea fails with poor implementation. It’s not about ideas but about implementation.’ And to learn how to develop good game design you need to test, test and test again. ‘It has never been easier than today to try to develop a game, just get started! Many programs are free. Above all, you have to stop thinking and start developing. There are no obstacles or excuses anymore.’ The students develop many games during the course of the education, on an increasingly advanced level. A number also spend their leisure time on game projects and some of the games
‘This happens around the clock,’ says Anders Wetter, who is sketching a new concept.
techniques, but above all to find new artistic forms. ‘They must excel at the technology, but technology cannot be an end in itself, it is just a tool. The technical development is tangible and affects the whole environment, but really they should not think about technology more than an author thinks about his language. That’s the challenge.’ One of the teachers is Marcus Ingvarsson. He studied here himself from 2005 onwards. He then worked for a number of years in Germany at a large games company. When a teacher vacancy arose in Visby, he moved back. What should a good game designer be capable of?
‘You should be open to the ideas of others and have the discipline to complete them. It is a mistake to distinguish between ‘my idea’ and
GAME DESIGN in rapid development
are released on the market. ‘It’s fun to see our students so motivated. Once the course assignment has been completed it’s a question of having the discipline to complete the remaining work to get the game released on the market,’ says Marcus Ingvarsson. What does the future hold for the students? There are several paths you can take, game designers can be employed by the major gaming companies or you can start your own business and work on more small-scale projects. There is also a labour market within visualisation and “Serious games”, says Steven Bachelder, where games are used for educational purposes, simulation or knowledge sharing. In his research, he examines what makes games so captivating. ‘What is it that gets people to sit for days on end and play something really very difficult, a
complex system of problem solving? It has great deal to do with inner motivation in a system that rewards.’ INITIALLY HE WAS an artist and has previously
taught at the University College of Arts, Crafts and Design. When he came here in the early 2000s, it was to look into a new, unestablished form of culture. ‘Games do things that other forms of media do not do. My question was: What’s the difference? And what is the potential, with all the development taking place? It was so interesting that I commuted here from Stockholm for seven years. Eventually I moved here. I still haven’t answered the question, so I’m still here,’ says Steven Bachelder with expectant expression. Here at Campus Gotland, he can follow developments first hand. n
THREE GAMES ... ... DEVELOPED BY STUDENTS ON THE GAME DESIGN EDUCATION: King of the thrill – uses a mobile phone as a controller instead of a joystick. Several players can participate.You must defend your position as ”King of the Thrill” when faced by opponents, through accumulating “power-ups” that provide extra strength, skills and powers.
Fly or Die – a variant of Hot Potato. One of the players has a bomb that is ticking down and needs to pass it on by flying into another player. The players wear Jet Packs in the form of a rucksack, which vibrates when you have the bomb. Whoever has the bomb when it explodes loses. Professor Steven Bachelder.
‘Games do things that other forms of media do not do. My question was: What’s the difference?
Little Warlock – web-based adventure game where you create and collect cards that are used on different playing fields. To their help players have creatures, spells and buildings that are placed on a grid. To use these, you must have the right card in your hand from your own built deck and place them out in real time while the game is in progress.
GROWING INDUSTRY Swedish game development grew in 2012, and sales increased by 60 per cent to SEK 3.7 billion. As shown by the Game Developer Index, the Computer Games Industry’s annual summary of Swedish developer’s annual reports. The industry has grown by 215 per cent during 2010–2012. Swedish game developers work with some of the world’s biggest brands, from Star Wars and Mad Max to wholly owned Swedish Battlefield, Minecraft and Candy Crush Saga. Some of the world’s most played, sold and popular games were developed in Sweden. Source: Computer Games Industry
NEW HORIZONS: ISSUE 1.2014
T E X T : A N N E L I B J Ö R K M A N I L L U S T R AT I O N : T O R B J Ö R N G O Z Z I
Students NEW THIS AUTUMN:
Music and the environment Several new programmes will start at Uppsala University next academic year. Among the new programmes is a unique bachelor’s programme in musicology. ‘IT IS THE ONLY bachelor’s programme of
this kind in Sweden,’ says Malin Sigvardson, faculty programme director at the Faculty of Arts. The programme includes courses in sight-reading, partitur-reading, harmony, counterpoint, ear training and music analysis. ‘Students will not only study theories, but they will work with the music. These are skills that are in demand and are presupposed by professionals internationally,’ says Malin Sigvardson. The program runs for three years and is given in Uppsala. In the autumn 2014 a new bachelor’s programme will start in environmental science at Campus Gotland. ‘Environmental science issues are included in many other programmes, but getting a holistic view of environmental science is something new,’ says Björn Gembert, faculty programme director at the Faculty of Natural Sciences. The programme has an interdisciplinary focus on natural resource management. n
teach students On the pulled down projection screen is a snooze alarm for mobile phones. Tired of not being able to decide the length of their extra nap, the young students have made an alarm that is activated after two minutes. A course in application development is in progress here with students both in front and behind the lecturer’s desk.
SIXTEEN GUYS have gathered for the
course, app development for smartphones with Hampus Iggström and Shervin Shoravi from the Master of Science Programme in Information Technology. The idea came to the two students two years ago. ‘We thought it would be fun if we got started and tested a load of things over a weekend. The programme gives us all the theory we need, but there is not enough time for practical exercises,’ says Hampus. Shervin nods. ‘If you want to be good at app development you must be prepared to sit for eighty hours a month outside of the education.
You need to realise that you will sit there for hundreds of hours, and get stuck over and over again, but still continue.’ THE GUYS have picked up a lot of their knowledge from the net and Stanford’s filmed courses of lectures on app development. They learned more while working on the side for a company focused on scheduling. When several classmates began to ask them for help, Shervin and Hampus went to the IT section’s board “primarily to exchange ideas about a possible app-course”. ‘Shortly thereafter a newsletter was sent out announcing the course would start. We then thought “oh, now we have to do it,’ they laugh. 30 students turned up for the first course date. The fact that the guys are appreciated cannot be mistaken. One of the participants, Babak Toghiani-Rizi, developed the app “Cykelkompis” which then won the prize in the competition Idea Uppsala’s application category. ‘They have really sacrificed their free time and put in a lot of energy so that the rest of us get to learn,’ says Babak. ‘It’s amazing with students who wish to share their knowledge rather than competing with others.’ n
NEW EDUCATION New programmes: physiotherapy programme and bachelor programmes in musicology, environmental science, business administration, leadership-quality-improvement, archeology and ancient history, as well as bachelor of Science in Engineering programme in quality development and leadership.
4 QUESTIONS T E X T : K I M B E R G S T R Ö M P H O T O : M I K A E L WA L L E R S T E D T
“Psychologists are needed!” Kajsa Asplund has studied the psychology programme, and during her study days helped to develop the job fair Psychology Day Uppsala. She is also a consultant at Psykologifabriken AB and has worked voluntarily for the Red Cross. How did you come to launch the job fair Psychology Day? ‘After studying the psychology programme for some time, I realised that there were a lot of areas where psychologists were needed but where there were currently none. Some fellow students and I wanted to broaden the image of what psychologists are and what they can bring to the table. But we also discovered that there were no contact points where psychologists and potential employers could meet. At the same time, the department wanted a labour market event, so they were very supportive.’ ‘So we set-up an association called Psychology Day, with an aim to arrange an annual job fair, including an exhibition, lectures and individual talks between psychologists and students. And of course a party!’ What will you do after you have qualified? ‘I’ll start researching at the Stockholm School of Economics. The project is about talent and how Swedish employers look for talent. There is a great deal of talk that talent is in short supply. But what actually is it? What do companies do to determine who has talent and who does not? Our assessment of people is not an objective process. We all carry a lot of luggage, which affects our judgment. And how, for example, do we relate talent compared to loyalty?’
‘Nowadays clinical psychology stands on a much firmer ground than earlier. The management culture should now be next. In Sweden, no one is currently researching this within psychology. So it is also a way of broadening the subject of psychology.’
In the autumn, you were “Uppsala Student of the Year”. What do you intend to do with the money? ‘It was fantastic and unexpected to receive the scholarship! I feel very honoured. It’s not just the money, as gaining access to the Anders Wall network is worth just as much. NEW HORIZONS: ISSUE 1.2014
Uppsala Student of the Year The scholarship for Uppsala Student of the Year is awarded by the Anders Wall Foundation. The first time it was awarded was in the year 2000. The scholarship is awarded to a student at Uppsala University who: • has excelled in taking good, creative initiatives at Uppsala University and • has participated in student union or student nation life, or through special initiatives has supported other students, or has developed entrepreneurship connected to the University’s teaching or other operations. The scholarship is for SEK 100,000.
PREVIOUS WINNERS 2012 JOHAN GÄRDEBO, innovative and
entrepreneurial humanities student with great commitment to improving the education for his fellow students. Co-founded the association Humanistiskt Initiativ, active within the Uppsala student union and driving force behind the student band SKAnsen. 2011 JOHAN BENGTSSON, medical student who has also studied linguistics. Has produced a well-received educational music video for medical students, is the driving force of the student comedy group Specialstyrelsen and has been very involved with Smålands nation. 2010 HOA LY, psychology student who has
The project is about talent and how Swedish employers look for talent. There is a great deal of talk that talent is in short supply. It’s a melting pot of artists, musicians, entrepreneurs, researchers and others. It’s an incredibly creative group.’ ‘The money will be spent on the development of a stress programme for middle management that was the basis of my thesis.’
Where do you get your drive? ‘I think my enthusiasm comes from being extremely curious! I want to know, both teach myself and pass knowledge on to others. My studies have benefitted by everything being so stimulating. I’ve probably got this from home. Mum was much the same.’ n
also studied business administration. He has also studied business administration, management and Japanese at Keio University in Tokyo, Japan. Co-founder of Psykologifabriken, which aims to popularise psychology. 2009 REBECCA ANDERSSON, psychology student with great commitment to educational matters, including study technique for students and collaboration between professions within healthcare. 2008 NIKLAS ELOFSSON, student with
top marks in the law programme, business administration, rhetoric and languages. Also a frequent contributor in student organisations. n
INNOVATION T E X T : K I M B E R G S T R Ö M P H O T O : M I K A E L WA L L E R S T E D T
The instrument that finds pathogens If doctors can be told quickly exactly which microorganism infects a patient and which antibiotics will work the likelihood of quick and effective treatment increases. The risk of resistant strains developing also decreases. The Uppsala based company Q-linea are currently developing an instrument that will do just that.
THE UPPSALA BASED company Q-linea is a spin-off from the university that is developing an instrument that can rapidly identify microorganisms. The company has been listed in the so-called 33 list as one of the country’s hottest technology companies for the second consecutive year. However, it all started ten years ago when the Swedish Armed Forces wanted equipment to quickly detect an attack with biological weapons. The reason that the Armed Forces turned to the research group where Q-linea’s current CEO Jonas Jarvius was a doctoral student was that they had a technique for identifying microorganisms on both protein and DNA levels.
NEW HORIZONS: ISSUE 1.2014
They developed a prototype to find the spores and within the framework of a EU project, it was possible to test it in a live environment. The choice fell on the Prague Metro. Where a large number of people are on the move and trains push the air back and forth in the underground facilities. ‘Our prototype was actually the only instrument that passed all the tests,’ says Jonas Jarvius, not without pride. ‘It was great to see that the instrument actually managed to measure in such a complex mix. It was the first time it had been shown around the world at all.’
Today Q-linea is led by Jonas Jarvius, who is a molecular geneticist, Jan Grawé who works with cell analysis and optics, and Johan Stenberg who works with software development. All three have followed each other since they were in the same research team. Jonas Jarvius’ old supervisor Professor Mats Nilsson is also the founder of the company and is involved in future strategies and Professor Ulf Landegren has always kept a watchful eye over the company. All of them are active at the Department of Immunology, Genetics and Pathology at the Rudbeck Laboratory.
THEY ALSO had contact with the major French
Own development of the instrument
Began working for Thales
Delivered to the Armed Forces
Contact with Thales
Jonas Jarvius publicly defends his doctoral thesis
Order from the Armed Forces
ees and spans the entire production chain from microbiologists and molecular biologists to circu-
it board builders, software designers, mechanics and carbon fibre moulders. They have also taken on young researchers, who have often started by doing a thesis and then continue to work at the company. Q-linea now has a long-term collaboration with Bengt Ågerup’s venture capital company nxt2b. The company has had continuous funding from the Armed Forces via Thales and now to nxt2b. Without it, Jonas Jarvius is convinced that Q-linea would not be the company it is today. ‘If we had had to look for money in the same way as many other start-ups it would have been much more difficult to grow. This is a huge problem for all small, newly started spin-off companies.’ n
Delivered to Thales
THE COMPANY has now grown to 23 employ-
‘Our prototype was actually the only instrument that passed all the tests,’ says Jonas Jarvius, not without pride.
Contact with Bengt Ågerups’ nxt2b
company Thales Security Systems, who on behalf of the French government were engaged to develop a method to measure contamination in air. ‘So we got a contract with them, as the only non-French company! We were actually headhunted’ says Jonas Jarvius and smiles. Meanwhile, they had come to the conclusion that health care would benefit the most from their technology. The technology could, for example, be used to make quick analyses so that doctors were able to prescribe the correct antibiotics, for example, to people with sepsis, acute septicemia. ‘Through being able to quickly determine exactly what bacteria is causing the infection and moreover find out which antibiotics are effective, doctors can provide the correct treatment much earlier than current technologies. For a patient with sepsis, mortality increases by about seven per cent for every hour that they receive the wrong treatment, so it is very important to be fast.’ Other potential uses are for patients suffering from a urinary tract infection. He hopes that the instrument can be found in our hospitals within a few years.
T E X T : K I M B E R G S T R Ö M P H O T O : L A R S WA L L I N
– LOOK HERE! Last year, the University of Uppsala took over responsibility for web-based further education for government employees. This now means the university educates more public employees than any other player.
What do you think?
New Horizons asked some civil servants why it is important with continuing professional development and what they hope Uppsala University can contribute. Ulla Petersson Imnell,
communicator and coordinator at the Migration Board: ‘At work you are usually busy with your duties, and may not have time to keep abreast of everything that happens. Therefore continuing professional development is necessary for us as an agency to maintain our level of expertise.’ ‘It is particularly interesting to listen to the researchers, to get a perspective from people who have studied our issues from a different perspective than we do. At the same time, the university must think about how they intend to reach out to the agencies in a good way.’ Gert Lundblad,
Läs mer: www.krus.nu UPPSALA UNIVERSITY has long been
a major player when it comes to offering further education to public employees. For the last six months the university has been the largest player in the area in the country. The university then took over the web-based further education courses from “KomCONTINUING PROFESSIONAL DEVELOPMENT FOR CIVIL SERVANTS Courses that have been taken over from Krus: • To work for the state • The principles of the six core values • Treatment • Equality and gender • Legal and appropriate • Legal and appropriate for you as a manager Uppsala University’s department of contract education also provides education in: • Work and work environment • Behavioural sciences • Executives and leadership • Law and the environment • Medicine and health care
petensrådet för utveckling i staten, Krus”, which was closed down. ‘This means a great deal to Uppsala University, we have already noticed increased interest from the outside world for our education programmes,’ says Mathias Blob, collaboration strategist at the department for contract education. According to him, public employees who choose to take some of the courses will benefit immensely, in that there is now a university’s full depth, width and traditions to gain from. In addition to the courses, the university will offer recurring seminars and panel discussions in the relevant fields. Torsten Svensson, professor of political science, has lectured at one of the seminars and believes it is important to preserve and develop the professionalism of the officials. ‘Many government officials are highly educated, but once you enter the workforce the focus is often on the routines of the daily work. But reality is constantly changing. Therefore, you need to constantly learn new things.’ n
operations developer at Försäkringskassan: ‘Basic and continuing professional development are essential for good operations. Without it you are groping in the dark. Försäkringskassan is fairly new as a public agency, so there is still much to do when it comes to talking about how it is to be one of 240,000 civil servants.’ ‘It is of great value that we can be involved in the whole process when the courses are developed and given. I think our work with Uppsala University will be successful.’
works with plain language at the Swedish Language Council: ‘Further training is very important in order to develop in one’s profession, and not stagnate. We are many linguists, and perhaps many of us do not see ourselves as public servants. So it is good that there are training courses that as a public servant one is obliged to do and not should do.’ ‘Uppsala University is an unknown when it comes to these courses. However, for those of us who are purists and linguists, it sounds good, as we still have a lot of contacts with the academic world. I hope we can work together to develop joint training courses.’ n NEW HORIZONS: ISSUE 1.2014
“The age rich are a resource” SOCIETY MUST SEE “age rich” (elderly) pe-
ople as a valuable resource, not as a burden,’ says Barbro Westerholm who will participate in the Uppsala Health Summit on 3–4 June. The theme of this international meeting is “Health Care for Healthy Ageing”. Barbro Westerholm is member of parliament for the Liberal Party, physician and researcher. She was Director General of the National Board of Health and Welfare 1979–1985 and chair of the Swedish Association for Senior Citizens 1999–2005.
ctor, other sectors of society must become involved.’ What are your expectations for the Uppsala Health Summit?
‘That prominence is given to knowledge which shows age rich people are a valuable resource and that the feeling of being needed is important to one’s health.’ n ANNICA HULTH
What is the position of Sweden, from a European perspective, regarding health care for the elderly?
Research funding from the EU has increased.
Increasing grants NUMEROUS POSITIVE trends can be seen
in the latest annual report from the University of Uppsala. Turnover during the past four years has increased by 17 per cent. An important milestone in 2013 has been the establishment of SciLifeLab with nodes in Uppsala and Stockholm, as a national centre for research in the life sciences. The focus on increased EU research funding has yielded a good result. Among others, more young researchers received funding from the EU and the Swedish Foundation for Strategic Research programme “Future Research Leaders”. ‘These are good signs seen from a future perspective and show that Uppsala University’s researchers and research stands up well against the competition. Another positive development is that we have become better at quickly putting research funding to work, among others, through new recruitment,’ says Vice-Chancellor Eva Åkesson. Applicants per University place continue to rise, and third stream activities have been intensified during 2013. Innovation activity has initiated several new collaborations and contract education continues to increase. n
‘From the studies I have seen and of the reactions I met at international conferences, I would say it is good.’ The fact that half of all people with dementia receive care and attention around the clock, surprises representatives from many other EU countries. In other words, we have it good in Sweden, but need to get better because there are flaws. She believes questions relating to the health of the elderly should receive more attention outside of health and social care. ‘Health is not only won in the health se-
Barbro Westerholm, politician, physician and researcher.
Platform for new antibiotics UPPSALA UNIVERSITY is a leading party in a giant project funded by Innovative Medicine’s Initiative (IMI) where academia, the pharmaceutical and biotechnology industries together shall accelerate development of new antibiotics. ‘Such a demonstration of strength with
the aim of developing an entirely new family of antibiotics is unique. The initiative represents something that up until now has been missing: funding to collaboratively develop new pharmaceuticals that are so dearly needed to tackle infectious diseases in the future,’ says Anders Karlen, one of two scientific coordinators in the project. Uppsala University has a central role in the pharmaceutical platform that will take a number of molecules through the entire development chain and hopefully arrive at a new medicine candidate being tested on humans. The six-year project is called ENABLE (European Gram Negative Antibacterial Engine) and has funding of more than SEK 750 million. The consortium comprises a total of 32 partners that includes universities, biotech industry and pharmaceutical companies. A significant part of the operations will be conducted at Uppsala University. n
ALUMNI PROFILE T E X T : M A G N U S A L S N E P H OTO : J Ö R G E N H I L D E B R A N D T
He wants to redraw the map ‘I do not care what people do with the knowledge, but we all need to learn the very basics about the state of the world if we are to live in it. Today, most people have an image that better matches Tintin’s reality. Meet Hans Rosling, honorary doctor who wishes to show us our new world.
The newly appointed honorary doctor Hans Rosling and his wife Agneta, at the winter promotion 2014. PHOTO: MIKAEL WALLERSTEDT
“I’M NOT GIVING ANY PERSONAL PORTRAITS, OKAY! Few journalists
ask me about the world, but since I became a celebrity, all everyone wants is personal portraits. The media is ineffective as a learning tool if the focus is on the teacher.’ Hans Rosling has obviously had enough of his role as the Swedish academic world’s cover boy. But do not mistake frustration for resignation. The coffee splashes when perhaps the foremost educator of our time bangs his fist on the table. The fact he will soon step onto the stage in the great hall as an honorary doctor at his Alma mater, Uppsala University, is nothing that dampens the joy of working, on the contrary. ‘The title does not include the right to work at Uppsala University, but I’m thinking positive and interpreting it as compensation for the fact I never had the chance to compete for a job in Uppsala. Instead, I had to commute to Solna for 20 years.’ HANS ROSLING TOOK his medical degree 1975 at Uppsala University. The
profession took him and his wife Agneta to Mozambique, where, side-by-side, they discover Konzo the paralytic disease that affects the rural poor and later formed the basis of Hans’ doctoral studies. Back in Sweden, Hans Rosling takes the initiative to the Sweden section of Doctors Without Borders and starts the course Man and Nature at Uppsala University. In 1997 he moved his desktop to the Karolinska Institutet and the post of professor. Eight years later, together with his son Ola and daughter in law Anna, he founded Gapminder, a foundation that develops the Trendalyzer software with the aim to illustrate statistical development over time. ‘We can no longer divide the world into only two types of countries: developed and developing countries. Today the vast majority of nations find themselves in the socio-economic mainstream, with the richest and poorest people on each side. However, the improvements occur faster than us Swedes update ourselves. Gapminder and Novus recently tested the public’s knowledge of the percentage of vaccinated children, illiterate adults and number of children per woman. The answers are more like Tintin’s reality than our own and the results are often worse than chance. The problem is not a lack of knowledge, but an actively enforced ignorance.’ GAPMINDER WILL SOON begin to produce and distribute information
about our planet. The impact is huge. In 2012, TIME magazine voted Hans Rosling as one of the world’s 100 most influential people. The day before our meeting, IT billionaire Bill Gates praised Hans to the skies. There seems to be only one person who was not impressed: Hans Rosling. ‘The aim was never fame. The aim has been to increase the general public’s fundamental knowledge about the state of the world and which up until now is something Gapminder has failed to do. And as long as everyone, from professors to high school students, live in ignorance about these major changes, I’ll continue with my work. Gapminder has recently started to develop apps that will incorporate specific themes about countries, regions and the world. Some days ago we published a video showing how a reduction in infant mortality controls population growth, look here and you’ll see!’
NEW HORIZONS: ISSUE 1.2014
SUDDENLY HANS draws a few rapid lines in my notepad, to show that the
number of children on earth has already stopped increasing and that rapid population growth has ceased during this century. Guided by Hans Rosling’s equally characteristic as absorbing explanations, I’m soon convinced, this may fix the world! However, it strikes me suddenly, what do I actually do with my newfound knowledge? ‘I don’t care’, grins Hans. The person who created the underground map in London did this so travellers would understand the system, he didn’t care where they were travelling. I’ll give you a map of the world. How you use it is your own business, but in my world, knowledge is the foundation of any well-functioning society, business and democracy.’ n
Age: 65 years Title: “Edutainer” and chair of Gapminder Lives: Terraced house in Flogsta (Uppsala) Favourite place in Uppsala: See lives Favourite student club: Never visited a student club A person I’d like to meet: All high school students and tell them about the state of the world A day off: I play with my grandchildren
The person who created the underground map in London did this so travellers would understand the system, he didn’t care where they were travelling. Hans Rosling wants to increase public knowledge about the state of the world.
PHOTO: ZAKARY BELAMY
4 QUESTIONS PHOTO: HENRIK PILERUD
Johan Ståhl studied economics and marketing for three years at Uppsala University. He then became a full-time magician and has performed throughout the world. He treated Uppsala to a magic and humour festival of world class – Uppsala Magic and Comedy, in April.
“Magic happens in the heads of the audience.” ‘I HAVE WORKED for twelve years as a magician and during the last six years I have performed a great deal abroad at conferences, festivals and shows. I wanted to bring this home to Sweden and to my hometown of Uppsala. It was absolutely world class, I have been inspired by the top venues in the world,’ says Johan Ståhl.
For my part, it all started when a childhood friend taught me how to make a five kronor coin disappear. 38
Can you give us some examples? ‘We had a unique show with a guy from Chile who performs magic for the blind. Magic is otherwise mostly associated with sight, but here everyone gets a blindfold and a box by their legs. The magician then tells the audience to feel in the box and the magic then takes place in their hands!’ ‘There was also a chance to see the reigning world champion from South Korea and a standup comedian from the comedy series Seinfeldt who has travelled here from Los Angeles.’ How did you learn to do magic? ‘There’s really no training in magic. For my part, it all started when a childhood friend taught me how to make a five kronor coin disappear.’ ‘You have to read books, go to conferences
and try things out on colleagues. Then you see whether the trick works on an audience. Magic happens in the heads of the audience not in the hands. Everything is based on how the audience perceives what is happening.’ Any highlights during your career? ‘I won first prize in Las Vegas and I have a standing invitation at the Magic Castle Hotel in Hollywood. I can go there whenever I want and perform and that tends to be once a year. In total I’ve done 122 performances there.’ ‘Last autumn, I ended up on the cover of the world’s first magic magazine, it’s a bit like being a photographer and ending up on the cover of National Geographic.’ Have you benefited from your studies in economics and marketing? ‘Absolutely! It’s nothing I have directly worked with, I’ve never been an economist, but it is something that I can implement every day in my profession life. Above all it’s perhaps the academic, critical thinking that helps me to get structure in large projects such as this.’ n ANNICA HULTH
NEW HORIZONS: ISSUE 1.2014
Visit Bergman UPPSALA UNIVERSITY Campus Gotland
The donor and librarian Greta Renborg, on assignment in Iowa in 1953.
Lift for personal archives THE PAIR Greta and Ulf Renborg have bequeathed SEK 12.5 million to the Uppsala University Library. The newly created “Greta Renborg fund” will be used for special investments in personal archives at the manuscript and music unit. Greta Renborg was a colourful librarian and debater. Her
fund will have great importance for the knowledge and use of personal historical collections through a service that Greta Renborg the librarian set up with the task of working with the personal archives, both in Uppsala and nationally. n
has initiated educational and research collaboration with the Bergman Estate on Faro. The aim is to develop new programmes and to stimulate new research collaborations related to aesthetics, film, art, literature, and theories of interpretation. ‘We see great potential for new initiatives in both research and education. Among the ideas are, for example, an international master course focusing on Bergman’s cinematography,’ says Olle Jansson Advisers to the Vice-Chancellor at Campus Gotland. The foundation, which manages Ingemar Bergman’s cinematic “home environment”, the so-called Faro environment, has sought a collaboration to create a sustainable environment for artists and researchers. Through this collaboration, the properties will be made available for seminars, courses, and for researchers. The foundation will also make Bergman’s library and its knowledge available to the research developed through the collaboration. n
Plants becomes art in Botan THE THUNBERG’S ORANGERY in the
botanical gardens will be filled with flower installations during the summer. Seven invited Japanese artists will create the works on site in June. The exhibition is unique in the world as the traditional Ikebana from the prestigious schools Ikenobo and Ohara will be shown together alongside
contemporary Japanese art inspired by the plant world’s diversity. Plants from the Swedish countryside and Linnaean Gardens of Uppsala will be combined with cut flowers, planted plants, rocks, roots and branches. The exhibition is open 14 June to 14 September. n
Meeting with Japan THE CHOIR Heimat Choir from Kyoto
Flower installation by the japanese artist Takaya.
University visited Uppsala and Stockholm in March. The name of the concert was Nakama, which means friend in Japanese, and friends is just what the members of the Heimat Choir and the Academic Orchestra are. They met in the autumn when the chapel made a highly acclaimed tour to Kyoto, Japan. The music performed at the concerts was a mixture of mainly Scandinavian and Japanese music, with music from e.g. Madame Butterfly (Puccini), European premiere of The Light is Here (Kinoshita) and Spring Night (Stenhammar) in Japanese. Uppsala University’s dramatic choir also participated. n
PHOTO: MIKAEL WALLERSTEDT
The last word
MARIKA HEDIN Museum Director, Museum Gustanavium
Mummies and needle-made lace are a resource WE ARE CURRENTLY rebuilding the Evo-
Used correctly, the material cultural heritage can give unexpected interdisciplinary links.
lution museum’s premises on Villavägen. In the summer the Museum Gustanavium will move in here with pots from Asine, helmets from boat graves in Valsgärde, mummies from Egypt and of course an exquisite needle-made lace that belonged to the wonderful Augsburg art cabinet. Uppsala University has truly amazing collections. There are hundreds of thousands of artefacts from various eras and cultures, such as Uppsala’s own modern history of science. We have exhibited a small part in our own museums – the Museum of Evolution, Gustanavium and Carolina. In the university hall you can visit our own fantastic coin collection, and at the castle, we show parts of our art collection, the second largest collection of early modern art in Sweden (only the National Museum has a larger collection). As a historian, it is obvious that in all subjects and disciplines we need to understand how the past influences what we think and do today. In this way, the objects in the collections are a link to the scientific development at the University. Now that
the objects are being moved to a central location in the town this means that the University’s collections can be used as an infrastructural resource for education and research. Gustanavium has collaborated with teachers from different disciplinary research domains in the past, and for subjects such as archaeology and art history the collections lie a little closer than for many others. However, for the vast majority of researchers, teachers and students at our university, this resource is unknown. Used correctly, the material cultural heritage can give unexpected interdisciplinary links. For example, it may be when advanced materials technology research becomes a resource for conservation, as in the project concerning the ship Vasa’s support cradle, or when DNA analysis of archaeological materials result in new insights about movement patterns and family structure of ancient humans. We will open the collections again in autumn 2014, so that teachers and researchers at the university can discover new ways to work together with us. Welcome! n
NEW HORIZONS: ISSUE 1.2014
Published on Jun 10, 2014